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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Haldon Street Festival, Lakemba

Apart from the occasional feast at Jasmin, it seems like the only time I ever take the time to shop in Lakemba is during the annual Haldon Street Festival.

Mother Nature was kind to us. It bucketed rain endlessly last night, but it was warm and sunny today even if the skies were somewhat grey.

Lakemba is a cosmopolitan mix of cultures. There's a strong Muslim community here and plenty of young families. This was my third visit to the festival, an annual event that is always crowded, in a happy kind of way. But as you pick your way through the endless prams and the gaggle of kids shrieking with laughter, you start to feel this really is a community gathering, owned and appreciated by the Lakemba residents, and a memorable big day out for all involved.

Falafel from the La Roche Restaurant stall


Guava juice and other drinks

Lebanese sweets

Tandoor oven

Turkish teapot

Happy crowds

Al-Fayhaa Bakery

I'm a helpless Lebanese pizza addict and made my usual stop at Al-Fayhaa Bakery.

Oregano pizza with vegetables $2.00

I'm always amazed at how cheap these freshly made delights are. These fluffy rounds of pizza dough are cooked in a woodfire oven, shoved in four at a time on long planks of wood. For a mere $2, my piping hot oregano pizza was dressed with thick slices of juicy tomato, spears of green capsicum, a generous mound of sliced Spanish olives and a handful of refreshing mint leaves.

Bliss is a mouthful of this pizza, soft and springy with only a hint of a crust. Warm and aromatic in your greedy little palms, it's a kaleidoscope of flavours, salty and sweet, bound by olive oil and herby za'atar. The dusting of flour on your lips is an unavoidable bonus.

Al-Madina Bakery

Up the road I popped into Al-Madina Bakery for more pizzas, this time in mini-size and bundled home for perfect late night snacking. The meat pizza is not as meaty as it looks, more tomato in flavour albeit with lamby undertones.

Meat pizza, medium $1.00

And the spinach pizza pocket cannot be beaten. This is the cheapest place I've found for spinach pizza - elsewhere it's about $1.50 (50 cents yes, but 50% increase also!).

Spinach pizza, medium $1.00

And dessert? A little wander into Viva Pinoy, supplier of all your Malaysian, Indonesian, Singaporean, Sri Lankan, Vietnamese and yes, Filipino needs.

Viva Pinoy Asian Grocery Store

Ube ensaymada $1.90

I emerged with an ube ensaymada, a sweet Filipino bread. Topped with a buttery crust of sugar crystals, this soft spongy bun had a purple coconut filling, made with ube purple yam. A little like the filling to a Chinese cocktail bun, but less buttery, it was scoffed quickly and a fitting multicultural end to a day of community celebration.

This year's Haldon Street Festival was held on Saturday 25 August 2007. This annual event is in its eight year, and celebrates respect, unity and peace.

Al-Fayhaa Bakery
137a Haldon Street, Lakemba, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9750 9009

Al-Madina Bakery
156 Haldon Street, Lakemba, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9758 2665
Open 7 days, 7am-5pm

La Roche Lebanese Restaurant
61-67 Haldon St, Lakemba, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9759 9257

Viva Pinoy Asian Grocery Store
35 Railway Parade, Lakemba, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9750 8804

Related GrabYourFork posts:
Haldon Street Festival 2006
Haldon Street Festival 2005: The parade
Haldon Street Festival 2005: The food
El Manara, Lakemba
Jasmin, Lakemba
9 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 8/25/2007 11:17:00 pm


  • At 8/26/2007 12:14 am, Blogger Ginger said…

    ooh! the food's very cheap!

  • At 8/26/2007 11:29 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Damn, I wish I'd known about this, I'd have gone :( I can't believe how cheap everything is!

  • At 8/26/2007 7:07 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh I've been looking for those oregano/rolled up pizzas for so long. I used to get them at a bakery in Bankstown that would churn out so many. Are there any bakeries closer to the City that sell them?

  • At 8/26/2007 10:23 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow looks awesome. I've only ever heard negative things about Lakemba so it's good to see a positive community event happening there!

  • At 8/26/2007 10:57 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Ginger - That's what I love about the 'burbs. Cheap and cheerful :)

    Hi aptronym - Somehow I always end up making it to this festival. It's a good day out. The stall food varied from about $5-$10 but I always head to the Lebanese pizza shops because how can you beat $1!

    Hi Anon - I, too, would love to find Lebanese pizza in the city, but alas I think Lakemba is as close to the city as you're going to get - I've only ever seen it in Bankstown and Auburn otherwise. Happy to be corrected if wrong!

    Hi Goldie - Lakemba is quite a vibrant community with lots of great shops and restaurants. The festival is always a hit with locals.

  • At 8/27/2007 3:54 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    That turkish teapot is gorgeous. I must get myself to Lakemba to try some yummy $1 or $1.50 pizzas and to buy a teapot!

  • At 8/27/2007 11:02 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Lorraine E - Enjoy the pizzas and have fun shopping too :)

  • At 9/11/2007 10:01 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    We went for a drive to Lakemba to try and find one of those teapots and stopped by Al-Madina Bakery on your recommendation and tried a few of the pizzas. The meat and the spinach one were definitely the best-I kept craving them as we were driving away knowing that it was a long drive back home and our next visit would be several months away :P The couple that run the bakery are so lovely and sweet and told us all about back home and their business.

    I didn't end up finding a suitable teapot but it was a lovely drive and the pizzas were so delicious (and so reasonable!) Thanks for yet another great rec! :)

  • At 9/12/2007 6:15 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Lorraine E - The pizzas are fantastic aren't they? I find the spinach pockets keep in the fridge/freezer fairly well. Just nuke and then grill to get them crispy again.

    I'm not sure where the teapot stall was from. Glad you enjoyed the pizzas anyway :)


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